Sunday, 20 May 2012 10:52

Seafarers and the cruise industry

Q. Is a hairdresser on board a cruise ship really a seafarer?

A. Yes. According to the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 Article II. 1. (f):

'Seafarer means any person who is employed or engaged or works in any capacity on board a ship to which this Convention applies'

Q. Does MLC 2006 apply to cruise ships?

A. Yes. Article II. 4. says:

'Except as expressly provided otherwise, this Convention applies to all ships, whether publicly or privately owned, ordinarily engaged in commercial activities'.

The cruise industry in North America

Some figures from the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) which represents 26 of the major cruise lines serving North America

  • Over 16 million passengers travelled on CLIA member lines in 2011.
  • A total of over 17 million is forecast for 2012.
  • CLIA members have experienced an average 7% growth in the last 30 years.
  • Fourteen new ships are planned for 2012 with ten more on order for 2013-15.
  • The planned new ships represent an investment of US$22 billion.
  • The cruise industry generated some US$35 billion for the US economy in 2009.

Cities at sea

MS Allure of the Sea is one of the largest passenger ships ever constructed. It employs 2384 crew members, from some 80 countries, and can accommodate 6318 passengers. Seventeen decks high, the ship boasts seven 'neighbourhoods'.

Source: Royal Caribbean International

The industry

  • Cruise shipping has increased dramatically in the last 20 years.

  • 75-80% of the industry is now controlled by big US corporations.

  • The current industry model demands maximum standardisation and economies of scale.

  • Profits come mainly from bars and casinos onboard and from passenger excursions.

  • The complement, or number of crew, is often over 1000 people, 2000 on larger ships.

  • According to the ITF, some 150,000 people currently work on cruise ships around the world.

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